Rotorua's Mariana Morrison is diving head first into the Pacific Open Water Challenge in Samoa and believes she will be the first Maori woman to complete it.

But being no stranger to pushing herself to the limit, the seasoned swimmer is treating the challenge as just another notch in her belt of accomplishments.

Ms Morrison flew to Samoa on Saturday to take part in the challenge today and tomorrow, which covers a total of 15km.

She told the Rotorua Daily Post she was feeling "quite relaxed really" ahead of the competition.


"I'm actually using this as a build-up to another Motiti to Maketu swim. Nothing compares to that challenge so while this swim will have its own set of obstacles, I'm not too nervous."

Ms Morrison completed her first open water swim from Motiti Island to Maketu in February last year, battling high swells, injury and strong currents, all with no fins.

"This will be my first international swim but it certainly won't be my last. I actually think I will be the first Maori woman to do this challenge. I've found a lot of Maori don't consider themselves swimmers, they are more team sport players.

"I have been looking for things to do on an international level and this pacific swim came up as one of the top 27 ocean series so I set myself a goal and went for it."

Ms Morrison said the biggest challenge for her during this swim would be adapting to the different climate.

"I've been training in freezing lakes and with the Te Arawa swim club at the Aquatic Centre but the water in Samoa will be completely different. While other swimmers will be able to adapt quickly to the conditions, it might be more of a challenge for me.

"I've just been mentally preparing myself and hopefully I'll get some time before the event to adapt to the different temperatures."

The winner will be determined by the overall times of each participant so Ms Morrison will be aiming to be the first out of the water for both days.

"For me doing these competitions is about breaking down the stereotypes of Maori mums. I want to be inspiring at the grassroots level and be an example of what Maori mums can achieve."